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Tick Paralysis

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Human Tick Paralysis

In humans, tick paralysis is most likely to be seen in children. The symptoms in humans are similar to the clinical signs in dogs. About two thirds of human cases are seen in young females. The tick bites are most often found at the head and there at the transition of hair and neck. The clinical presentation appears as typical ascending flaccid paralysis. After aprodromal phase (paraesthesias, restlessness, irritaility, fatigue, and myalgias) neurological symptoms will start with paralysis of the lower extremities. The deep tendon reflexes are weak or absent. Duirng the next 12 to 24 hours the muscles innervated by facial nerves become weak. Without removal of the tick, finally the respiratory muscles will fail  and the patient will die of respiratory failure. Rare forms of illness include focal muscles paralysis (facial muscles, arm muscles, pupillary dilation, and acute cerebellar syndrome). Sensory findings are generally absent and therefore form an important differential diagnostic symptom to the Guillain-Barré syndrome where sensory findings are frquently found during the prodromal stage of disease.

Further information

  • Edlow JA, McGillicuddy DC: Tick paralysis. Inf Dis Clin North Am. 2008, 22, 397-414
  • Gordon BM, Giza CC: Tick paralysis presenting in an urban environment. Pediatr Neurol. 2004, 30, 122-4
  • Malik R, Farrow BR: Tick paralysis in North America and Australia. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 1991, 21, 157-71
  • Wright IG, Stone BF, Neish AL: Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) paralysis in the dog – induction of immunity by injection of toxin. Aust Vet J. 1983, 60, 69-70

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